What is a Casino?

A casino, or gaming house, is a facility where people can gamble and play games of chance. The precise origin of gambling is not known, but it has been a part of human culture for millennia. In modern times, the word is most associated with Las Vegas, but there are casinos in many other cities and countries.

While the glamour of a casino—with its musical shows, lighted fountains and shops—draws in millions of visitors every year, the billions of dollars in profits are primarily earned by the games themselves: slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps, keno and baccarat. While some games require skill, most are pure chance, and the mathematically determined odds in each game ensure that the house will win. This advantage is called the house edge.

Because large amounts of money are involved, the security of a casino is a major concern. Patrons and employees may be tempted to cheat or steal, either in collusion or independently, and most casinos employ a variety of security measures. Some of these are technological: betting chips have microcircuitry that allow the casino to monitor their movements minute by minute; roulette wheels are electronically monitored for any statistical deviations from their expected results.

Most modern casinos also include non-gambling amenities such as restaurants and shows, to make them attractive to a broader range of tourists. Some states have laws regulating the number of casinos, while others encourage their development by offering tax breaks. Many American Indian tribes have their own casinos, as they are not subject to state antigambling laws.